UPDATE: 11th November 2009
A ban on cigarette machines has now been agreed by MP’s. See the BHF website for more information.
I was recently contacted by the British Heart Foundation to give support to their ‘Cigarette Vending Machine Ban’ campaign. I sent the following to the British Secretary of State for Health, Mr Andy Burnham to show my support:
Mr Andy Burnham
Department of Health
London SW1A 2NS
Cigarette vending machines – get the ban in
Dear Mr. Burnham,
Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Health. You now have the opportunity to improve the heart health of our children. I am writing to urge you to take action, and use the current Health Bill to introduce a total ban on cigarette vending machines.
I am supporting the British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaign to ban the sale of cigarettes through vending machines because they are an easy source of cigarettes for children. I want to see a reduction in the number of young people who are putting their health at risk by smoking.
During the second reading of the Health Bill your colleague Ian McCartney MP spoke passionately in favour of a ban. He argued that calculations by the BHF suggested that in 2006 around 45 million cigarettes were sold to 46,000 11-15-year-olds through cigarette vending machines – enough children to fill Goodison Park and still have 11,000 outside!
Smoking is one of the major risk factors that can increase your chances of getting cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease. We know that children who smoke are far more likely to continue smoking in their adult life.
It is inconceivable to imagine a situation where alcohol, fireworks, knives or other age-restricted products are sold through vending machines. The fact that cigarettes can be bought in this way is an anomaly that must be tackled. We must have all possible measures in place to ensure that young people cannot access cigarettes.
The current Health Bill creates powers to control the sale of cigarettes to children through vending machines. But restrictions are unlikely to prevent children from using cigarette vending machines – I am urging you, as Ian McCartney did, to “get the ban in!” and help protect the heart health of children in their adult lives.